Website builders are tools that you can use to make your own site without knowing anything about coding or design. The most popular easy website builders are free to use and can be accessed using nothing more than a web browser. They are perfect for total beginners or people with a very small (or no) budget. The two free website building tools that I like the most are Wix and WordPress.com. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but both are excellent options for those who want to create an easy, quick site without the need to pay for anything.
Free vs Paid
Before looking at the different options available, let’s look at when a free website builder is a good choice. In general, if you have even a small budget, it is almost always best to choose a paid site builder and hosting option, like a self-hosted WordPress blog or a Webflow site. Why? First of all, free site builders almost always have several restrictions that paid options don’t have. They will usually put ads on your pages, have limited customization options, and so on.
Most free site builders/hosts do not give you your own domain name, unless you pay for it. If you want to build a business site, you need your own domain name. A business site that uses a subdomain like yoursite.freehost.com just does not look professional. This means that a free site builder is almost never a good option for business owners.
Also, if you expect to receive a lot of traffic, most free website building services will not be a good choice either. Paid hosts usually provide more than enough bandwidth so getting lots of visitors is not an issue. Not so with many free hosts/site builders.
Still, free website builders are good for people who are total beginners and do not want to create a business site. Basically, if you want to build a simple site as a hobby, free site builders and hosts can be a good option. Let’s look at the two leading free site builders: Wix and WordPress.com.
WordPress.com vs Wix
Compared to WordPress.com, Wix is easier to use. In fact, it is probably one of the easiest website building tools I have seen. You build your pages by dragging and dropping elements onto a blank page. Learning the basics should take you no more than an hour maximum. Its interface is very intuitive to use, so you can get started very quickly and have your first site finished in just a few hours or less.
Wix comes with a nice selection of attractive templates, allowing you to change the look and layout of your site in just a few clicks. It also has a nice selection of elements that you can use to easily add image galleries, videos, blogs, eCommerce features and more to your site.
Wix offers a paid Premium option, which allow you to remove ads from your pages, gives you additional storage space and bandwidth as well as the ability to accept payments and add Google Analytics to your site.
Wordpress.com is a free hosting and site building service based on the WordPress software. If you are not familiar with WordPress, it is basically a free tool for building blogs and websites. When it was first created it was only meant for blogs, but nowadays you can use it to build just about any type of website you can think of. WordPress is extremely popular and there is a huge community of users and developers.
The free version of WordPress.com has most of the features of a self-hosted WordPress site, except for the ability to install plugins. However, you do get everything else that makes WordPress so great: creating posts and pages is easy, media management features are great, it has a powerful commenting system and more.
WordPress.com is slightly more complex than Wix and it will probably take you a bit longer before you can get started. However, it isn’t hard to learn either and you will quickly find your way around.
WordPress.com has around 200 different themes for you to choose from. Just like Wix’s templates, these allow you to quickly and effortlessly change your site’s layout and design. With a paid WordPress.com plan or a self-hosted WordPress site you get a much larger selection of themes, but these should be enough to get you started.
While it may be a bit harder to learn than Wix, WordPress.com does have a few other advantages. First is the fact that you will be learning how to use WordPress. This will be very useful if you ever decide you want to build a more complex site. Also, if you want to move your free site to a paid host, WordPress makes this very easy to do, unlike Wix, where moving your site is pretty much impossible.
Free website builders like WordPress.com and Wix are great options for those who want to build a simple, non-business site. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, so which one you choose will depend on your personal preferences.
If you want simplicity and are not planning to ever expand or move your site, Wix is probably the best choice for you. If you want to build a larger, more complex site and want the option of moving your site in the future, then WordPress.com is better.